What’s That First Step Again?

“I have another relapse in me. I don’t know if I have another recovery in me.”
“While I’m in the meeting, my disease is doing push-ups in the parking lot.”
“It hasn’t gotten any better out there.”
“If I fail to plan, I plan to fail.”
“Keep coming back, but better yet, just stay here.”
“Relapse begins a long time before I pick anything up.”
“If I’m not working on my recovery, I’m working on my relapse.”

These are all phrases I have heard more than once from people in 12-step meetings. They’re on my mind because there’s a mini-relapse going on inside my head lately, and I need to deal with it before it grows! I’m learning what people who rack up time in program do: it’s not that we don’t relapse, it’s that we catch the relapses at an earlier stage and treat them before they go far enough to involve actually using again.

I’ve been very worried and fearful about my future, our finances, where we are going to live, the start of the school year…life stuff. My attitude is becoming warped and moving farther away from one of surrender and trust. I’m not accepting rejections from rentals with any serenity; I’m feeling more insecure and anxious each time.

There’s nothing wrong with me having feelings. What’s wrong is that I am not applying the principles of the program to them. I haven’t been taking those specific feelings into my spiritual practice; I’ve been too busy trying to control the outcome. I’ve forgotten that when my attitude is wrong, I’ll find something to worry about no matter what the circumstances, and if my attitude is healthy I can endure chaos better than I think.

How can I be letting my attitude slide while spending time writing about recovery and healing the way I do?  Writing doesn’t make me immune. Pondering emotional and spiritual matters doesn’t either. All of the things I’ve written have been true, and with the Elements series I thought a lot about how they applied to my life. I even used the ideas to get at some feelings I needed to process. But something is missing.

Maybe I’ve been too general and not specific enough lately, even with my spirituality. There’s a difference between the idea of surrender and surrendering the specifics. Have I surrendered where we’re going to live? Have I really? Have I surrendered how long it’ll take to get out of debt, or what the school year will require? Hell, no. Perfect surrender may not be possible, but if I were even halfway to it I wouldn’t be so fearful and obsessive. My prayers haven’t been about “Your will be done, and help me be OK with it,” they’ve been “Please let your will match with my will, because I really need that to happen to be OK.”

It’s time to get real about how unspiritual I’m feeling. Fearfulness about the future. Resentment and rebellion about the years of financial rehab ahead of me. Envy toward those with more resources. Shame about feeling ungrateful when I know there are many with less.  All of these attitudes are contrary to the values I love, but they are here. So what do I do?

This is the part where I talk about my extremely effective and insightful technique for reconnecting to my spirituality. Right. My ego wants me to come up with something like that, but I won’t. Because what I really need to do right now is admit that I don’t know. There isn’t one way, or one guaranteed fix for this. There’s only a place to start. With this scrap of willingness, I can follow various suggestions that have worked for others.

6 responses to “What’s That First Step Again?

  1. Hello
    I have seen a lot of people in my time in the program who go “back out.”
    It is not that they dont talk, its that they dont work the steps and stay connected to those around them.

    This is not about doing it right. It is about doing it.
    Many of my old timer buddies tell me that this is not a program for those who need it, but for those who want it.

    Keep coming back. My dear friend Fanatic is feeling the same way you are. She is saying that she has nothing to offer, nothing to contribute or nothing to say.

    I dont like to give advice, but here goes
    Keep coming back. Work the steps, dont drink or use between meetings. Oh yeah and when your ass falls off, tell someone.
    Dear you just did!!!

  2. I think this was a very right-on post. I was enraptured by it. I couldn’t have said it myself any better. It was perfect and right-on the money – from start to finish

  3. ps – I’m e-mailing this link to my sponsee.

  4. Are you connected to my blog? I think we have a lot to share with each other.

  5. I’ve finally come to the end of… “Myself”. I don’t know how to stay abstinent. I’ve been trying on my own to get this thing called abstinence for 30 years!! I’ve been a 100% failure. I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. I have a sponsor now and I’m doing everything I’m being instructed to do….

    Remember the date I started abstinence but don’t count my days.
    Write down my food daily being 100% honest about it, and e-mail it to her.
    Listen to 1 Pod-Cast a day (there is no abstinence in the area where I live)
    Make 1 Out-Reach phone call.
    Don’t get obsessed with losing weight.
    Get some therapy for all my emotional problems.
    Do a specific affirmation looking at myself in the mirror.
    Do a specific prayer on my knees.

    I have been following these directions for several weeks now (I am not counting) and abstinence is coming to me – all by itself. Amazing. OA does work – if I decide to work it.
    robin claire

    • Glad things are going well for you right now, Robin. I agree abstinence from compulsive eating can be mysterious and tricky; I certainly need spiritual help to get there. What I’ve been doing lately for medical reasons is not the same as OA but I apply the principles of the steps to it…yes, I have visited you and plan to read more soon; feel free to email me if you wish as well. Thanks for your comments and support!

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